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Children draw their homes, flight and dreams

Since September 2015, artist Dieter Mammel paints together with refugee children in two of Berlin’s initial reception camps. He was moved to become involved not only by his encounters with the first refugees on the island of Kos in August 2015, but above all by his own family history. By recounting how his own parents and grandparents fled from the Balkans to Germany during the Second World War, he encouraged the children to tell their own stories. For Dieter Mammel as well as the children, drawing and painting offered a chance to communicate with each other intensively, even across language barriers. In this process, the children, aged five to fifteen, have created impressive personal drawings and group paintings. They recount the children’s origins in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, their journeys to Germany, and their first impressions when they arrived. From the children’s perspective, they tell of tank deployments and shelling, dangerous sea crossings in unsafe boats, heavily guarded borders and fears – yet also of friendship, their future hopes and dreams.

At the Haus am Waldsee, a leading venue for international contemporary art in Berlin, Dieter Mammel and Director Katja Blomberg presented his project to the public for the first time. Afterwards, the works were also exhibited in the Berliner Dom, the Berlin Cathedral.

Frankfurt’s Weltkulturen Museum presents now a comprehensive selection of over 50 large-scale drawings and sketches related to the three overarching themes of home, flight, and arriving in Germany. In the first group of works, the children depict the homes they had to leave, war and their desire for peace, while the second focuses on their flight to Germany. The third group of works not only offers an insight into the children’s first impressions of Germany, but also their wishes and dreams for the future. The works are complemented by paintings and installations of the artist Dieter Mammel. In the accompanying film “Erzähl mir, woher Du kommst” (Tell me where you come from), produced together with Matthias Grübel, the children talk about their pictures. Their drawings help them to recount their experiences, and their body language also reveals just how deeply they are affected by their memories and hopes.

For the Weltkulturen Museum, the presentation of this project is also an experiment. How flexibly can a museum react to a current and sensitive issue? Which expectations can it meet, and how far? How do visitors react – and what debates does it trigger? We invite you to discuss these questions with us in the context of the education programme.

Lender: Stephanie and Wolfgang Bohn, Dieter Mammel (Gallery Hübner+Hübner Frankfurt)

Accompanying publication
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication in both German and English containing numerous illustrations. Supported by Strofhoff International School, Beate und Dr. Daniel Schmid, the companies Imtradex and Karl Kolb, Bettina and Franz Otto, Katja and Axel König, Ulrike and Peter Thoma.

Weltkulturen Museum, Schaumainkai 29